Sean Weeraratna produced a superb all-round display to help Heriot’s power to the victory that could shape the destiny of the championship – then insisted his side can be part of the title race next season.
The home-turf success of Heriot’s against hitherto pacesetters Watsonians allowed Carlton to jump to the top of the table, thanks to their demolition of struggling Falkland at Scroggie Park.
Former Scotland player Weeraratna turned the tide against Sonians with a brief but explosive knock that took the Goldenacre brigade out of reach.
He said: “The innings was up there with my best. I got myself in and then targeted the shortest boundary in the later overs.
“I managed to take a couple of wickets in the early stages of their reply and then Ryan Brown and Mark Watt turned the screw with some very disciplined spin bowling.
“Our squad is shaping up very well with a very nice blend of experience and youth.
“Knoxy, Kev McLaren and I are the wrong side of 30, but the rest of the guys are under 25 so, if we keep progressing like this, there is no reason we can’t be title contenders this time next year.”
Responding to a target of 231, the pressure told as Sonians surrendered wickets at regular intervals to fall 40 short.
Steve Knox anchored the home innings with a typically watchful 60. Pro Hayes van der Berg and Peter Ross succumbed cheaply, leaving Watt and Knox to steady the ship. There were further stutters in the face of some frugal Sonians bowling and fielding, before Weeraratna completely changed the complexion of the contest.
He clattered 63 not out from 38 deliveries – hitting three sixes and six fours. Watt went on to take three for 45, sharing a six-wicket haul with McLaren.
Carlton stalwart Stevie Gilmour heaped praise on Arun Pillai, whose batting and bowling left Falkland in disarray.
Pillai struck a century before wiping out the Fifers’ tail to complete the rout. Skipper Gilmour declared: “It was a great afternoon for us. Arun was fantastic and no one deserved it more because he has worked really hard and has been threatening to come up with a really big one.”
Falkland had been set a revised target of 249 but there was little prospect of them approaching that tally as Omar Ahmad throttled the visiting batters with a wonderfully accurate stint which yielded only 12 runs from ten overs.
Pillai then completed a great afternoon’s work by taking four scalps in quick succession, sending Falkland tumbling to 94 all out.
Forfarshire opener Matthew Parker celebrated the Angus derby triumph over his old Arbroath team-mates and paid tribute to the influence of player-coach Graeme Beghin.
Parker (71 not out) and Beghin (67) were the prime performers for the hosts at Broughty Ferry – and the former said: “Graeme has had a massive impact on the club. All the way up from the lads in the Under-13s to seasoned internationalists in the first XI, he has instilled a professional level of attitude. He sets an example, both as a cricketer and a man for everyone at Forthill.
“He and captain Craig Wallace have scored the bulk of the runs, however it has been a team effort throughout the season. Lads such as Scott Cameron and Umair Mohammed have been exceptional in the middle order.
“It is an absolute pleasure to be playing for this club, particularly with the crop of exciting youngsters coming through.”
Ross McLean top-scored with 63 as Arbroath made 188 for six in 34 overs. But Parker and Beghin combined to guide Forfs to local glory.
Aberdeenshire skipper Chris Venske admitted he gained little pleasure from his team’s low-scoring victory over Glenrothes at Gilvenbank.
Venske admitted: “It was a weird game on probably the worst pitch I have encountered at this level.
“It was dire, with 15 wickets falling for 120-odd runs. Not great.
“It was a good toss for us to win and bowl first, with young Connor Shorten deservedly grabbing four wickets.
“We lost a spate of wickets near the end. No batsman would have been happy to play on that deck.”
Elsewhere, bottom club Stoneywood-Dyce were, as expected, comfortably dealt with by Grange at Raeburn Place. John Blain’s two early breakthroughs set the tone.